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For Feiys Impact Series our writer in residence Nika Dulevich is talking to entrepreneurs who pursue a path greater than just profit and strive to contribute to the greater good with their products and services. 

 

在这次的 Feiy’s 冲击系列,作家 Nika Dulevich 会与不仅仅追求盈利道路并努力通过其产品和服务为更大的利益做出贡献的企业家们

 

The business owner she talked to this time is Teck Tin Wong, the founder and CEO of RenewMaterial (www.renewmaterial.com), an international company focused on research and development of renewable, sustainable and green alternatives to wood.

 

她这次与企业老板交谈的是"更新材料"www.renewmaterial.com)的创始人兼首席执行官,该公司是一家专注于开发可再生、可持续和绿色木材替代品的国际公司。

 

In this interview TT talks about his struggle with creating and promoting innovative products, shares his insight into the dangers of formaldehyde and PVC, and opens up about the legacy he wants to leave behind.

 

在这次采访中,TT谈到了他在创造和推广创新产品方面的斗争,分享了他对甲醛和聚氯乙烯危害的见解,并开启了他想要留下的遗产。

 

This is the first part of a two-part interview where TT talks about his struggle creating and promoting innovative products, shares his business insight and opens up about sustainable business in China. You can read the second part of the interview here

 

这是 TT 在两部分访谈的第一部分,他谈到了他创造和推广创新产品的斗争,分享了他的商业见解,并开启了在中国的可持续业务。你可以在这里阅读采访的第二部分

 

 

 

 

Interviewer: How did RenewMaterial start and how did the first years of the company look like?

 

采访者:RenewMaterial 是如何开始的,公司头几年的样子如何?

 

TT Wong: In summer 2000 I did a project in Anhui, Hefei. It was the time when farmers were burning wheat during the harvest season. In those days, when farmers started burning wheat, you could put your hand out and you couldn’t see it. The smoke was that bad that flights were delayed. Even while staying in a hotel, you could smell the smoke. There I met with local authorities who asked me to help resolve this problem.

 

王:2000年夏天我在安徽合肥做了一个项目。那是农民在收获季节烧麦的时候。在那些日子里,当农民开始烧麦子的时候,你可以伸出手,你看不见它。烟雾使航班延误了。即使住在旅馆里,你也可以闻到烟味。在那里,我会见了地方当局,他们要求我帮助解决这个问题 

 

 

I realized that it was a good project to get into, so I started doing research. A short while after, I quit my job to do it fulltime. I spent three years in China doing research and then a little longer to wait for the right time to launch.

 

我意识到这是一个很好的项目进入,所以我开始做研究。过了一会儿,我辞掉了工作,全职去做。我花了三年时间在中国做研究,然后多一点等待合适的时间推出。 

 

 

For a project like this to be successful, one of the key factors is where and how often we can get the raw materials. So I spent almost three years looking for the best location to build a factory. I was lucky enough to find someone willing to let me use their facilities to do the R&D. After three years of trial and error, I got a worldwide patent. After getting the patent, I started seeking investment and was lucky to raise enough funds to start RenewMaterial in Taizhou, Jiangsu province.

 

对于这样的项目的成功,其中一个关键因素是,我们可以在哪里和多久一次才能获得原材料。因此,我花了近三年的时间寻找最好的位置,以建立一个工厂。我很幸运地找到了一个愿意让我利用他们的设施进行研发的人。经过三年的测试,我获得了世界专利。获得专利后,我开始寻求投资,幸运地筹集到足够的资金,在江苏泰州开始 RenewMaterial 的计划。

 

 

Interviewer: What do you think of your competition? What if more companies get into using more renewable materials, straw specifically?  Would you welcome that?

 

采访者:你觉得你的竞争对手怎么样?如果更多的公司开始使用更多的可再生材料, 特别是稻草呢?你欢迎吗?

 

 

TT Wong: I think the market is quite big. What we’re trying to do is to come up with an alternative material to wood. The demand for manmade materials like plywood, MDM-board, even timber is huge, there is no way that one company or one person can take all the market. I welcome competition, only through competition one can improve. I strongly believe that in China alone we can have 10, 50, 100 competitors.

 

王:我觉得市场相当大。我们试图做的是想出一种替代木材的材料。对胶合板、MDM板、甚至木材等人造材料的需求巨大,一个公司或一个人不可能进入所有市场。我欢迎竞争,只有通过竞争才能提高。我坚信,单单在中国,我们就有1050100个竞争对手。

 

 

Interviewer: In general, do you think of the sustainable business world as more of a game of competition or a place for cooperation? How does it affect how you operate and develop RenewMaterial?  

 

采访者:总的来说,你认为可持续的商业世界更像是一场竞争游戏还是合作场所?它如何影响您操作和开发 RenewMaterial

 

 

TT Wong: I think it’s a place for cooperation. Ten brains are better than one. Everyone has ideas, strengths, and weaknesses, and if we put our strengths together, we may come up with something incredible.

 

王:我认为这是一个合作场所。十个脑比一个好。每个人都有想法、长处和短处,如果我们把优势发挥出来,我们可能会想出一些不可思议的东西。 

 

 

Interviewer: What has been one key factor in RenewMaterial success?

 

采访者:RenewMaterial成功的一个关键因素是什么?

 

TT Wong: Our biggest success is our technology. Many companies produce strawboard using wheat or agricultural straw and have been doing it for a long time. But the technology that most companies use is not good enough and products still have a lot of quality issues. We managed to come up with a much more superior technology. \

 

王:我们最大的成功是我们的技术。许多公司使用小麦或农业稻草生产稻草板,并且已经生产很长时间了。但大多数公司使用的技术不够好,产品仍然有很多质量问题。我们设法想出一个更优越的技术。   

 

 

Traditionally, most of the technology is like making an Indian pancake – you compress it and cut it into shapes. What we’re doing is very different. We do a closed mold. The significant difference between these two technologies is that with the latter one, you can vary the density.

 

传统上,大多数技术就像制作印度煎饼一样 — 你把它压缩并切成形状。我们正在做的事情大不相同。我们做一个封闭的模具。这两种技术之间的显著区别在于,使用后一种技术,您可以更改密度。

 

Most of the strawboard available in the market in the past could achieve a maximum density of 700 kg per meter cubed. By doing a closed mold, we can have up to 1300 kg per meter cubed. On top of that, we can make different shapes. 

 

过去的市场上现有的大部分稻草板可以达到每米700公斤的最大密度。通过做一个封闭的模具,我们可以有高达1300公斤每米立方体。最重要的是,我们可以制作不同样的形状。 

 

In terms of property, it is water-resistant, fire retardant, termite-, fungus-, moisture protected. Some companies started making strawboard in China and had to shut down because this material is prone to growing fungus. We don’t have such problem. Overall, our material is much better if compared to the traditional way of making strawboard.

 

在性能方面,它是防水,阻燃,白蚁,真菌,保湿。一些公司开始在中国生产稻草板,并不得不关闭,因为这种材料容易生长真菌。我们没有这样的问题。总的来说,我们的材料比传统的制作草板的方式要好得多。 

 

 

Another strength that our products have over others is that we use up to 95% of agricultural fiber. A lot of similar technologies add plastic resin, for example. There’s a Chinese company, I do not want to mention their name, claim they are making strawboard, but they only use 5% of straw and the rest of it is wood chip and plastic resin. \

 

我们的产品比其他国家有另一个优势是,我们使用高达95%的农业纤维。例如,许多类似的技术都增加了塑料树脂。有一家中国公司,我不想提他们的名字,声称他们正在做稻草板,但他们只使用5%的稻草,其余的是木屑和塑料树脂。

 

 

The Germans have come up with a technology that exclusively uses straw, but they mix it with plastic. Once you mix in plastic, it is no longer biodegradable. When you compress plastic into the product, it takes a much longer time to degrade, especially if it is recycled plastic. So this technology is being slowly phased out because the products are not bio-degradable. 

 

德国人已想出一种专门使用稻草的技术,但他们把它和塑料混合在一起。一旦你混合在塑料中,它将不再可生物降解。将塑料压缩到产品中时,降解需要更长的时间,尤其是回收塑料时。因此,这项技术正在慢慢淘汰,因为产品不能生物降解。

 

 

We are quite different from the rest, as we came up with new material, which is superior to others, as it is formaldehyde-free, high density, and has several other unique properties.

我们与其他材料大不相同,因为我们想出了新材料,它优于其他材料,因为它不含甲醛,高密度,并有几个其他独特的属性。

 

 

Most strawboard available in the market cannot be used for flooring, but ours can. We can do wall panels, tables, chairs, as well as packaging materials, like pallets. Our pallets have been traveling around the world without any problems, and they’re strong enough to be used for other products.

 

市场上提供的大多数的草板不能用于制造地板,但我们的可以。我们可以做墙板,桌子,椅子,以及包装材料,如托盘。我们的托盘一直在世界各地被应用,没有任何问题,他们足够强大,可用于其他产品。

 

 

 

 

Interviewer: What do you find to be the biggest challenge you faced throughout the years?

 

采访者:这些年来您面临的最大挑战是什么?

 

 

TT Wong: When you’re coming up with something completely new, something no one has ever done before, market acceptance is one of the greatest challenges. We came up with our packaging product in 2013-14. When we were introducing it to MNCs, the first question was “Who has already used it?”. They wanted it to have proven its value before they started using it. It took me 3-4 years to launch a product and gain market acceptance. 

 

王:当你要找到一些全新的东西时,市场接受是最大的挑战之一。我们在 2013-14 年想出了我们的包装产品。当我们向跨国公司介绍它时,第一个问题是"谁已经用过它了?他们希望在开始使用它之前证明它的价值。我花了3-4年时间推出一种产品,并获得市场认可。

 

 

My first customer was Shanghai Volkswagen Powertrain. They saw my product at one of the exhibitions and invited me to speak about it as I found a tremendous cost-saving know-how for them. 

 

我的第一个客户是上海大众动力总成。他们在一个展览会上看到了我的产品,并邀请我来谈谈,因为我为他们发现了一个节省成本的巨大技术  

 

 

If you use a traditional wooden pallet for transportation, you need to do fumigation and heat treatment before you can export it to another country. So the problem they faced was that they had many suppliers delivering different components to their factory using local wooden pallets that were not treated. And if they had to send something out of China, they have to buy a treated pallet. They also had to face the problem of disposing of old pallets. I suggested to ask their suppliers to use my pallets.

 

如果您使用传统的木制托盘进行运输,则需要进行熏蒸和热处理,然后才能出口到另一个国家。因此,他们面临的问题是,他们让许多供应商使用未处理的本地木托盘向工厂交付不同的部件。如果他们必须把东西送到中国,他们必须买一个经过处理的托盘。他们还不得不面对旧托盘的处理问题。我建议要求他们的供应商使用我的托盘。

 

 

“When they deliver to you, you can use the same pallet for export because our palette is exempted from fumigation and heat treatment (ISPM-15) since it is manufactured with high heat and high pressure.” They agreed and became my first customer. Subsequently, when they started using it, it was much easier for me to introduce it to other companies. Today, we have over 10 MNCs using our products, including companies like HP, Shell, Philips and DuPont. So, the main challenge was being accepted in the market and having enough patience to wait 3-4 years to sell our first product.

 

"当他们交付给您时,您可以使用同一托盘进行出口,因为我们的调色板不受熏蒸和热处理 ISPM-15),因为它采用高温和高压制造。他们同意了,成了我的第一个客户。后来,当他们开始使用它,我更容易把它介绍给其他公司。如今,我们有超过 10 家跨国公司使用我们的产品,包括惠普、壳牌、飞利浦和杜邦等公司。因此,主要的挑战是在市场上被接受,并有足够的耐心等待,耐心来等待3-4年才销售我们的第一个产品。

 

 

Interviewer: What has been your biggest lesson learned throughout the years working with renewable materials in China and beyond?  

 

采访者:这些年来,您在中国及以后使用可再生材料所学到的最大教训是什么?

 

 

TT Wong: I think the biggest lesson learned is that location is very important for our business. In the beginning, we found a place that had a lot of straw material, but three years later it became a big construction site. 

 

王:我认为最大的教训是,地理位置对我们的业务非常重要。一开始,我们找到了一个有很多稻草材料的地方,但三年后,它变成了一个大的建筑工地

 

 

You need a lot of resources and money to build a factory so it is hard to change locations. In fact, to date, we have invested close to USD 60 million in the place and built all the infrastructure. For this business, you need a huge area to store and process the material. Our factory is the size of about 18 football fields. It’s not easy to just move from one place to another.

 

建造工厂需要大量的资源和资金,因此很难改变位置。事实上,到目前为止,我们已经投资近6000万美元的地方,并建设了所有的基础设施。对于此业务,您需要一个巨大的区域来存储和加工材料。我们工厂有18个足球场。从一个地方搬到另一个地方不容易。

 

 

Today, you can’t even get a piece of land that big, you need double or triple the amount we invested. In the early days, we could get it, but now it’s quite difficult. 

 

今天,你不能得到这么大的一块土地的,如果你要,你需要还两倍或三倍我们投资的金额。在早期,我们可以得到它,但现在这是相当困难的。

 

 

So, one of the lessons we learned is to look at long-term raw material supply and how to get good staff there since it can be quite remote for our kind of business. The area of Taizhou, Jiangyan where our factory is, is larger than that of Singapore but their population is only 800,000. It’s very difficult to get people there. I’m fortunate enough to bring in Indian workers to the factory.

 

因此,我们学到的一个教训是研究长期原材料供应,以及如何在那里获得良好的员工,因为它可能相当遥远,我们的业务。我们工厂的泰州面积比新加坡大,但人口只有80万。把人带到那里是很困难的,而我很幸运能把印度工人带到工厂来。

 

 

Our factory is the only one in the region that has a lot of foreigners, particularly from India. These workers are stable, they will work for at least two years, while in Jiangyan area, the staff turnover is very high.

 

我们的工厂是该地区唯一一家拥有大量外国人的工厂,尤其是来自印度的外国人。这些工人是稳定的,他们将工作至少两年,而在江岩地区,工作人员流失率很高。

 

 

Another lesson learned is you must always prepare. We assumed we could launch a product in 1-2 years, but it took us 3-4 years. Luckily enough, we had resources. If we didn’t, we would have closed down.

 

所学到的另一个教训是,你必须时刻准备。我们有假设我们可以在1-2年内推出一款产品,但花了我们3-4年的时间。幸运的是,我们有资源。如果我们没有这些资源与设备,我们早就会关闭了。

 

 

 

 

Interviewer: What are your plans for the future of RenewMaterial?  

 

采访者:你对 RenewMaterial的未来有什么计划

 

 

TT Wong: We are growing our current business with packaging options. It has been quite successful as the market acceptance is there. We have also expanded our factory to make sustainable furniture products, because I realized that people around the world are still using unhealthy flooring, with high formaldehyde concentration.

 

王:我们通过包装选项发展我们目前的业务。它一直相当成功,因为市场接受是有。我们还扩大了我们的工厂,以生产可持续的家具产品,因为我意识到世界各地的人们仍然使用不健康的地板,甲醛浓度高

 

 

The average formaldehyde content for the MDF board and plywood on the market range from 1.5 to 3 ppm. But for humans, it is healthy to use up to 0.05 ppm. The United States have passed the law that all man-made material must not have formaldehyde content over 0.05 ppm. But today, the European standard is E0-0.5 ppm which is 10 times higher. The reason is that it’s the cheapest option and if they pass a new law, there will be no supply.

 

市场上 MDF 板和胶合板的平均甲醛含量从 1.5 3 ppm 之间。但对于人类来说,使用高达0. 05ppm是健康的。美国已经通过了法律,所有人为材料的甲醛含量不得超过0. 05ppm。但今天,欧洲标准是E0-0.5 ppm,这是10倍以上。原因是这是最便宜的选择,如果他们通过一个新的法律,将没有供应。 

 

 

Interviewer: And there’s no alternative in the market?

 

采访者:所以市场上没有其他的另类?

 

 

TT Wong: There is, but it’s much more expensive. So, this is one of the concerns. If you look at data, there are about 2 million children in China that die from using materials with high formaldehyde content every year. Today it’s easy to find a formaldehyde measuring meter. You walk into any exhibition center, the content can be 3 to 5 ppm.

 

王:有,但是要贵得多。因此,这是人们关心的问题之一。如果你看看数据,中国每年约有200万儿童死于使用甲醛含量高的材料。今天很容易找到甲醛测量仪。您走进任何展览中心,内容可以是 3  5 ppm

 

 

Most exhibitions want to do a quick job, so they use the cheapest plywood because they need it only for a few days and they use all kinds of glue to put it together. So every time you walk through the exhibition, you feel giddy and tired, which is mainly because of formaldehyde. 

 

大多数展览想做一个快速又轻松的工作,所以他们使用最便宜的胶合板,因为他们只需要几天,他们用各种胶水把它放在一起。所以每次你走过展览,你都感到头晕目眩和疲倦,这主要是因为甲醛的存在。

 

 

The World Health Organization has identified formaldehyde as carcinogenic, that’s the reason why the US has put a stop on it and why we want to get into furniture. Our material is nontoxic for humans, especially considering that today a lot of flooring is made from PVC. PVC is toxic for both the environment and human health. If you have children, try not to use any PVC material.

 

世界卫生组织已经确定甲醛是致癌物质,这就是为什么美国停止甲醛。我们的材料对人类无毒,特别是考虑到今天很多地板是由PVC制成的。PVC对环境和人类健康都是有毒的。如果您有孩子,尽量不要使用任何PVC材料。

 

 

PVC emits over 100 different chemicals into the air and these are all harmful to humans. PVC is neither biodegradable, nor healthy. I remember when I was a young engineer in 1997, PVC was banned, but I don’t know why PVC came back for flooring and all kinds of different things.

 

PVC会排放超过100种不同的化学物质,而这些化学物质对人体都有害。PVC既不可生物降解,也不健康。我记得1997年我当年轻工程师的时候,PVC被禁用,但我不知道为什么PVC回来做地板和各种不同的东西

 

 

Our material can be used for furniture and flooring. It is truly sustainable, made from the natural fiber with no formaldehyde content. Our material has been sent to Switzerland for testing and has been proven to have no formaldehyde.

 

我们的材料可用于家具和地板。它是真正可持续的,由天然纤维制成,没有甲醛含量。我们的材料已被送往瑞士进行测试,并已被证明没有甲醛。

 

 

None of our products use toxic paint. For most of our material, we use wax-oil, a natural oil, and PUR adhesive, which is expensive, but we insist on using it because anything to do with standard glue contains formaldehyde. So all our products are truly environmentally friendly and sustainable.

 

我们的产品都没有使用有毒油漆。对于我们大部分的材料,我们使用蜡油,天然油和PUR胶粘剂,这是昂贵的,但我们坚持使用它,因为任何与标准胶水有关的东西都含有甲醛。因此,我们所有的产品都是真正环保和可持续的。

 

 

 

 

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